A HOLOGRAM FOR THE KING (12A)

A HOLOGRAM FOR THE KING (12A)

Run time: 97mins

Director: Tom Tykwer

Cast: Tom Hanks, Sarita Choudhury, Sidse Babett Knudsen, Alexander Black, Tom Skerriitt Ben Whishaw

Synopsis: Cultures collide when an American businessman is sent to Saudi Arabia to close what he hopes will be the deal of a lifetime. Baffled by local customs and stymied by an opaque bureaucracy, he eventually finds his footing with the help of a wise-cracking taxi driver.

URL: www.ahologramfortheking.co.uk

‘’Once in a Lifetime’, the 1980 Talking Heads song by David Byrne, blares out over a confused and harried looking Alan Clay (Tom Hanks), as director Tom Tykwer’s [Cloud Atlas (2012), Perfume: The Story of a Murderer (2006), Run Lola Run (1998)] film opens.

Tykwer has adapted David Eggers’ 2012 best-selling novel set in a rising Saudi Arabian city, far from recession-scarred America, where a struggling businessman pursues a last-ditch attempt to stave off foreclosure, pay his daughter’s college tuition, and finally do something great.

In A Hologram for the King, Alan Clay suffers major culture clash in Jeddah, pitching for the IT infrastructure for the King Abdullah Economic City (“KAEC”) – a massive new development in the middle of nowhere.  A wise-cracking taxi driver, Yousef (Alexander Black) who loves 80s rock and a beautiful doctor, Zahra (Sarita Choudhury) eventually secure his survival as he pursues his deal of a lifetime.

As usual Tom Hanks is excellent and always watchable as the exasperated businessman supported in the comedy drama by a flirtatious Danish contractor (Sidse Babett Knudsen from Borgen) who gets him blind drunk on illegal booze and by cameos from Tom Skerriitt and Ben Whishaw.

Despite stunning cinematography from Frank Griebe, especially of the film’s Egyptian and Moroccan locations, the whole experience is rather uneven, as the story changes direction from the initial culture clash angle, and many of the situations – including a skinny dipping sea swim with the married lady doctor – seem rather improbable given what we hear of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA).

Images courtesy of ICON FILM DISTRIBUTION

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